H-1B Visa 2017 (Persons in a Specialty Occupation)

H-1B visa 2017 is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Foreign professionals with specialized knowledge, such as scientists, engineers, programmers, research analysts, management consultants, journalists, accountants, and others with Bachelor’s or an equivalent degree
  • Foreign nationals entering the U.S. to offer exceptional services relating to cooperative research and development projects administered by the U.S. department of defense
  • Professional nurses entering the U.S. to perform complex job duties or supervise nursing operations
  • Distinguished fashion models
  • U.S. companies to bring in qualified foreign professionals for jobs that require a bachelors degree and specialized skills

The H-1B Visa 2017 has become a somewhat mythical visa category over the years. It is the visa everybody wants and thus, it is the type of visa that receives the most attention. The laws regarding the H-1B Visa 2017 constantly change; interested candidates should stay informed about the frequent updates to the law. Bay Area Immigration Services is well-experienced when it comes to such types of visa applications.

The H-1B visa 2017 is also known as work visa to the USA. The U.S. businesses use the H-1B Visa 2017 program allowing foreign workers in “specialty occupations” to enter the U.S. and work in a variety of fields, including Architecture, Engineering, Modeling, Medicine, and Health. When the application is in the process, the H-1B visa functions much like a UK work permit application; in that procedure, the employer begins with an offer of employment from a United States based company. US immigration for work purposes in all cases needs a pre-arranged job offer and employer who is willing to undergo the complex petitioning process. This visa is sometimes used to hire workers for the Department of Defense. The H-1B visa 2017 offers a wide range of employment possibilities and is a substantial first step toward permanent immigration. This approved petition (Form I-797) is a work permit which allows you to receive a visa stamp and work in the U.S. for that employer. This visa is issued in three-year increments, for a maximum of six years.

Qualifying Criteria

A U.S. based employer can offer the applicant a guaranteed permanent full-time employment. However, the candidate in question must also qualify a range of criteria. The U.S. H-1B visa is targeted for the potential employees who will be immigrating to the USA in order to work in a specialty occupation, i.e. a job that requires a significant deal of specialist knowledge and skilled one by the acquirement of a U.S. equivalent Bachelor’s Degree. Moreover, candidates are expected to have either:

  • The equivalent of a 4-year US equivalent Bachelor’s degree, relevant to the field in which job is being offered (Most UK Bachelor’s Degree’s are equivalent).
  • Candidate with work experience of about 12 years in a specialized field, or a combination of education and work experience of total 12 years (1 year of higher education equals 3 years of work experience).
  • Professionals such as lawyers, accountants, and doctors must be having the professional license to practice in the state in which employment is offered. This may involve passing a relevant state professional examination.

H-1B Visa 2017 Quota and H-1B Cap Systems

Every year there is an annual Quota (limit) of ‘new’ H-1B visas that can be granted; which is also known as the H1B Cap 2017. H-1B cap-subject visa petitions can start to be filed from April 1st every year. Moreover, there is a quota or limited amount of H-1B visas allotted in a fiscal year. April 1st is the first day that H-1B applications are accepted by USCIS. The H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) Cap Season began on April 1, 2013. The total H-1B quota allotment is divided between the Regular H-1B Cap and the ADE H-1B Cap are:
The Regular H-1B Cap is available to those who are living abroad and want to get their first H-1B visa 2017, and to those in the US who want to change their current visa status to H-1B visa 2017 status.
The ADE Cap (Advanced Degree Exemption) is available for a graduate from a US university/college with a Masters level or higher level degree.

For 2015, the cap of 85,000 H-1B visas was reached in April 2015. Out of 85,000 visas, 65,000 visas were available for the Regular cap and 20,000 cap as visas are available for the US Masters Degree Cap.

Example: When H-1B visas are still available in November or December, visas can still be filed for and issued (with immediate employment start dates). The first date that anyone who has been issued a cap-subject visa earlier in the year (from April-September), can start work for their new employer/sponsor company.

Applicants must have a U.S. Bachelor’s Degree in their specialty or a license in fields that require licensing, such as teaching or pharmacy. The visa is not self-petitioned, which means you will need an employer to sponsor you. You can stay in the U.S. for up to six years, after which you are required to leave the U.S. for at least one year before being eligible again.
Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the U.S. under H-4 status. However, they are not permitted to work unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

H1B1 Visa

The H1B1 visa is quite similar in name as well as in functionality to the H-1B visa. The H1B1 visa is known as the visa for persons in specialty occupations. This visa came into existence because of two agreements between United States – Singapore and the United States – Chile. They are termed as U.S. – Singapore Free Trade Agreement and U.S. – Chile Free Trade Agreement. These treaties allow Singaporean and Chilean citizens to come to the United States on a nonimmigrant visa.

The Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Singapore came into effect on the 1st of January, 2004. The biggest advantage of this visa named ‘H1B1’ is that it helps a whole new class of Singaporean citizens to obtain a nonimmigrant visa to enter the USA for the purpose of employment.

The biggest difference between an H-1B visa and H1B1 visa is that in case of the former the individual does have the option to file for immigration while working in the United States, whereas in case of H1B1 visa, the period of stay in the United States is temporary and the individual has no privilege to file for immigration.

 

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible to apply for an H1B1 visa, an individual must satisfy the following criteria:

  • The H1B1 visa requires that the applicant be a Singaporean citizen. Permanent residents of Singapore who are citizens of other countries are not eligible to obtain this visa.
  • The applicant must possess a 4-year post-secondary degree in his/her field of specialization.
  • The applicant must be able to produce evidence(s) that his/her period of stay in the United States is temporary, only for the purpose of employment.
  • The employment in the United States doesn’t include self-employment or independent contracts.
  • The domain of employment must be a specialty occupation. It is necessary that the individual possesses a great deal of knowledge in a field of specialization. The field of specialty occupations includes biotechnology, healthcare, mathematics, engineering, etc.

 

Speciality Occupations for H1-B1 Visas

The H1B1 visa requires that its applicants possess either a bachelors degree which must be at least 4 years duration and theoretical and practical knowledge of a certain branch of knowledge. Leaving aside the exceptions, medicine, health, engineering, social sciences, mathematics, architecture are some of the specialty occupations. The few exceptions in specialty occupations have been mentioned below:

  • Those who are into business and do not hold a baccalaureate or equivalent degrees may hold jobs in the capacity of Agricultural Managers or Physical Therapists (Applicants from Chile) and Disaster Relief Claim Adjusters (Applicants from Chile and Singapore).
  • At times, it is the U.S. companies who contribute in qualified foreign professionals from Singapore and Chile for getting a job that may require the candidate to have a bachelor’s degree and certain other skills.
  • Those who may hold a baccalaureate degree in a different specialty area (may be management consultants) and are foreign nationals from Singapore and Chile.

 

Photograph Requirements

  • The image must be square shaped, that is having equal dimensions (width and height).
  • The image must be in the JPEG format, with minimum acceptable dimensions as 600 X 600 and maximum acceptable dimensions as 1200 X 1200.
  • The maximum size of the photograph can be a maximum up to 240 KB and it must be in color.
  • The image must contain full shoulders, neck, and face of the visa applicant.
  • The head size should be between 50-69% of the total height of the image.
  • The photograph must be the front view of the applicant.
  • The head must not be covered with any clothes, except if it is covered for religious purposes.
  • Eyeglass can be used in the photograph, however, they must not be tinted. Applicant must not wear sunglasses or any other objects which can hide any portion of the face.

 

Documentation

On the Part of the Employer

  • An offer of employment extended to the foreign individual
  • A photocopy of the LCA certificate of the individual

On the Part of the Applicant

  • A valid passport with the expiry date at least 6 months beyond the period of stay in the United States
  • In case the applicant is between 16-45 years of age, he/she will need to fill out a form DS-157
  • Evidence that he/she will return to country of citizenship after the temporary stay in the United States

 

Application Process

  • Getting Hired by U.S. Employer
    The H1B1 visa is similar to the H1-B visa in which the applicant must have a job offer with a U.S. employer. The employer provides an employment opportunity and sponsorship to the individual to come and work for him in the United States. Once the sponsorship is obtained from a U.S. employer, a prevailing wage needs to be obtained and an LCA certificate needs to be filed. The LCA certificate stands for the Labor Condition Application. The LCA form is to be submitted online through the DOLS iCERT Portal System. Note that unlike H1-B visa, no petition is needed to be filed in case of the H1B1 visa.
  • Filling the Form-156
    Once the applicant receives LCA certification from the Labor Department, he/she can go about filing the form 156 online. It is important that the individual furnishes the correct information at the time of filling the form because entering incorrect information will lead to rejection of the application.
  • Applicant Takes a Digital Photograph

Once the sponsorship and LCA have been filed, the applicant can take a photograph of himself/herself for the visa application. This can either be done at home or in a professional studio. The only thing to be remembered by the applicant to mention to the photographer at the professional studio is that the photograph is needed for H1B1 visa application.

  • Make Payment and Schedule Appointment
    The individual can make the online payment of application fees and schedule an appointment for the visa interview. It is necessary that the applicant carries along all the required documents in original at the time of the interview.

 

Dependents

The spouse and unmarried children (below the age of 21 years) of H1B1 visa holder are eligible to get an H4 dependent visa to accompany the principal visa holder in the United States. This visa, however, doesn’t allow the dependents on an H4 visa to work in the United States. In case they wish to work, they need to file a work visa for the same. The children of the principal visa holder may enroll themselves into school without having to file for a student visa. In order to get the dependent visa, the spouse and children of the Singaporean citizen need not be mandatorily Singaporean.

H-1C Visa

H-1C visa is a visa issued to registered nurses who come to the United States from the outside countries in a temporary capacity to perform the duties and services in the ‘Health Professional Shortage Area’. This visa and its underlying conditions/rules are determined by DOL or the Department of Labor. It was mainly introduced in the year 1999 to tackle the issue of shortage of nurses in the U.S. Health Department. In this type of visa, the hospital has to petition to the USCIS. However, it is necessary that the hospital is located in the ‘Health Professional Shortage Area’.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Nurses must possess a valid complete and unrestricted license in their country of nursing education in the U.S. if they studied in the U.S.
  • An authorization must be provided by U.S. State Board of Nursing to work in that state.
  • The nurses must have cleared the CGFNS examination (Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools) or must have a valid and unrestricted license to practice in the capacity of a nurse in the state where he/she will practice.
  • They must be eligible to work in the intended state as a nurse upon obtaining admission to the United States.

Eligibility Criteria for Employer

    • The hospital must be certified by the DOL.
      • It must have no less than 35% of the Medicare population and no less than 28% of the Medicaid population.
      • The hospital must have at least 190 acute care beds.
      • It must be under ‘health professional shortage area’.
      • Under the Social Security Act, it must be a ‘subpart D’ hospital.

Application Process

The hospital must obtain a notice from the Department of Labor which states the acceptance of attestation for H-1C Nonimmigrant nurses. Once this has been obtained, the hospital can submit the Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

Documentation and Application

The following documents are required to be submitted along with the Form I-129.

      • ETA 9081 for the Attestation for H-1c Nonimmigrant Nurses
      • Statement from hospital facility which mentions about laws and restrictions on the nurses
      • Evidence from State Board of Nursing of Authorization to work in the United States and evidence about authorization to work at the hospital
      • Evidence which shows that the nurse has the full and unrestricted license to practice nursing in the country of education or in the intended state of practice in the United States.
      • Evidence that shows the nurse is fully qualified and eligible to practice in the place of intended employment upon obtaining admission to the United States.

On the day of visa application, following documents and forms are required:

      • Valid passport for travel to the United States. It must have the validity 6 months beyond the stay of the nurse in the U.S.
      • One 2″X2″ photograph
      • Form I-797
      • Form DS-156, Filled and Signed
      • Form DS-157 which is called as Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa application which is required for all male applicants in the age group of 16 to 45 irrespective of their nationality and intended state of employment.

Dependents

The spouse and children (below 21 years) of the H-1C visa holder are applicable to apply for H-4 dependent visa.

H-2A Visa (Agricultural Workers)

H-2A visa is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Foreign agricultural workers with job offers from U.S. companies
  • U.S. companies hiring foreign workers to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.

The H-2A Visa is the most functional of all visa categories. An H-2A visa allows a foreign national entry into the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work. It fills a specific need for both the U.S. and for foreign nationals. The H-2A visa is elusive that’s why cultivators don’t like the limits of the visa and workers rights advocates don’t believe the laws provide enough support for workers. This visa allows foreign workers entry into the U.S. to work in agriculture, and there are several requirements of the employer in regards to this visa. The H-2A temporary agricultural program sets up a means for agricultural employers who expect a shortage of domestic workers to add nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.

Currently, there is a considerable number of temporary agricultural workers in the United States working under this visa program. All of these workers are supposed to be covered by U.S. wage laws, workers’ compensation and other standards, but covered debt bondage may be present. The H-2A visa is not self-petitioned. Employers must prove that there are no U.S. workers available to perform the work to be completed. Although this is a temporary visa, it can be extended for up to three years. Workers’ spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join them in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Dependents are not permitted to work unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

Employment Procedure
Employers expecting a shortage of agricultural workers and in need must implement at least 45 days before certification is necessary. An active effort to recruit U.S. workers in areas of expected labor supply includes newspaper and radio advertising. Such recruitment must be at least equivalent to that conducted by non-H-2A agricultural employers in the same or similar crops and area. The employer must agree to contribute preference and engage in active recruitment of U.S. workers. The H-2A certification is valid for up to 364 days. As temporary or seasonal agricultural employment, the work is done during certain seasons of the year or for a limited time period of less than one year when the employer can show that the need for the foreign worker is truly temporary.

Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can approve an employer’s petition for such workers, the employer must file an application with the U.S. Department of Labor stating that there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified, available and that the employment of aliens will not adversely pretend the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The statute and departmental regulations allow for numerous worker protections and employer requirements with respect to wages and working status that do not apply to nonagricultural programs. The Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) deals the labor certification program, while the Wage and Hour Division, Employment Standards Administration (ESA) is responsible for enforcing provisions of worker contracts. In employing a worker, the employer must assure to provide each worker employment for at least three-fourths of the workdays in the term of the contract period. If the employer affords less employment, then the employer binds to pay the amount which they would have earned if they had worked the contracted period.

Qualification Criteria for H-2A

To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant below-mentioned points must be followed:

  • The petitioner must provide a job that is of a temporary or seasonal nature.
  • The petitioner must show that the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions equivalent to employed U.S. workers.
  • The petitioner must present that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
  • For H-2A petition, a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor must be submitted, (Limitation to this requirement. See: Code of Federal Regulations- 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(x) for specific details).

H-2A Application Steps:

  • Step 1: The petitioner must go for and receive a temporary labor certification for H-2A workers with DOL because afterward petitioner submits temporary labor certification application to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and prior to requesting H-2A from USCIS; See (Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor) for further information regarding the temporary labor certification requirements and process.
  • Step 2: After receiving a temporary labor certification for H-2A employment from DOL, the employer should file Form I-129 with USCIS. The original temporary labor certification must be submitted as initial proof with Form I-129. (See Form I-129 for additional information of filing requirements)
  • Step 3: Prospective workers outside the United States apply for a visa and/or admission after USCIS approves Form I-129, prospective H-2A workers who are outside the United States must:
    • Apply for an H-2A visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, and then look for admission to the United States with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry.
    • Immediately look for admission to the United States in H-2A classification with CBP at a U.S. interface of entry, if a worker does not require a visa.

H-2A Eligible Countries

The Department of Homeland Security publishes the list of H-2A and H-2B eligible countries annually in a Federal Register notice. The appellation of eligible countries is valid for one year from publication.
Effective January 2015, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A program:

Argentina
Australia
Barbados
Belize
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Costa Rica
Croatia
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Ethiopia
Estonia
Fiji
 
 

Guatemala
Grenada
Honduras
Hungary
Haiti
Ireland
Israel
Iceland
Jamaica
Japan
Kiribati
Latvia
Lithuania
Moldova
Montenegro
Macedonia
 
 
Mexico
Nicaragua
New Zealand
The Netherlands
Norway
Nauru
Philippines
Poland
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Romania
Slovakia
Serbia
Solomon Islands
South Africa
South Korea
 
 

Samoa
Slovenia
Switzerland
Spain
Tonga
Turkey
Tuvalu
Uruguay
Ukraine
United Kingdom
Vanuatu

 

 

 

 

Note: If you request H-2A workers from both eligible and non-eligible countries, USCIS suggests that you file two separate petitions. Filing one petition for workers from eligible countries and a separate petition for workers from non-eligible countries may help decrease delays. (See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(iii) and 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(i)(F)(1)(ii) for additional evidentiary requirements.)

Staying Period

USCIS may grant H-2A classification for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification. The maximum period of stay in H-2A classification is 3 years. H-2A classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each. A new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time must accompany each extension request.
A person who has held H-2A nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must leave and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2A nonimmigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2A time.
Other than that certain periods of time spent outside of the United States may “interrupt” an H-2A worker’s authorized stay and not count toward the 3-year limit. See (Calculating Interrupted Stay for H-2 Classifications) for additional information.

How to notify USCIS

Notification should be made to the California Service Center via email or mail at the following addresses. Otherwise, email notification is strongly recommended to ensure timely notification. (OMB Control Number 1615-0107)

H-2B Visa (Seasonal Workers or Trainers)

H-2B visa is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Foreign athletes, trainers, or artists with a job offer from a U.S. employer
  • Skilled workers in crafts and trades who are able to perform tasks for which no U.S. workers are available
  • U.S. companies hiring foreign nationals to perform temporary work for which no U.S. workers are available

The H-2B visa nonimmigrant program allows employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the U.S. and do temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peak load, or intermittent basis. While a limited amount of H-2B Visas are issued each year, the visa is nonetheless useful. The H-2B visa enables U.S. businesses, such as hotels, construction companies, and landscapers, to fill temporary needs for nonimmigrant workers. This visa is also occasionally used to hire professional basketball or hockey players. Many individuals who are unable to obtain an O or P Visa decide to apply for this visa instead. The visa is not self-petitioned, which means you will need an employer to sponsor you. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Dependents are not permitted to work unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

H-2B Visa Classification

The H-2B visa classification requires the United States Secretary of Homeland Security to consult with appropriate agencies before admitting H-2B non-immigrants. Homeland Security regulations need that, except for Guam, the petitioner first apply for a temporary labor certification from the United States Secretary of Labor indicating that:

  • There are not enough U.S. workers who are capable of performing the temporary services or labor at the time of filing the petition for H-2B classification and at that place the foreign worker is to perform the work.
  • The employment of the foreign worker will not adversely pretend the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The Department of Labor will review and process all H-2B applications on a first in, first out basis.
  • If the need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the inherent job can be described as temporary. The employer’s need is conceptualized temporary if it is a:
  • Seasonal Demand – A petitioner arrogating a seasonal need must show that the service or labor for which it searches workers is:
  • Of a recurring nature.
  • Traditionally evened to a season of the year by an event or pattern.

Note: Employment is not seasonal if the period during which the service or labor is needed is unpredictable, subject to change, or considered a vacation period for the employer’s permanent employees.

          One-time occurrence – A petitioner arrogating a one-time occurrence must show that it has:

  • An employment condition that is otherwise permanent, but a temporary event of short duration has created the need for a temporary worker.
  • Not employed workers to perform the service or labor in the past, and will not need workers to perform the services or labor in the future.

          Peak Load Need – A petitioner arrogating a peak load need must show that it:

  • Needs to temporarily supplement its permanent staff at the place of employment due to a seasonal or short-term demand.
  • Regularly employs permanent workers to perform the services or labor at the place of employment.

Or
          Intermittent Need – A petitioner arrogating an intermittent demand must show that:

  • It has not employed permanent or full-time workers to perform the services or labor.
  • Occasionally or intermittently demands temporary workers to perform services or labor for short periods.

Note: H-2B petitioners must also offer a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or, in the case where the workers will be employed on Guam, from the Guam Department of Labor (Guam DOL)

H-2B Application Steps

  • Step 1: Before requesting H-2B classification from USCIS, the employer must apply for and receive a temporary labor certification for H-2B workers with the U.S. Department of Labor (or Guam DOL if the employment will be in Guam). See “Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor” and “Foreign Labor Certification, Guam Department of Labor” for further information.
  • Step 2: After getting a temporary labor certification for H-2B employment from either DOL or Guam DOL (if applicable), the employer should file Form I-129 with USCIS. With limited exceptions, the original temporary labor certification must be submitted with Form I-129. (See Form I-129 for additional instruction for filing requirements.)
  • Step 3: After USCIS approved Form I-129, prospective H-2B workers who are outside the United States must:
    • Apply for an H-2B visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, and then look for admission to the United States with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry.
    • Immediately look for entree to the United States in H-2B classification with CBP at a U.S. interface of entry.

Note: Employers requesting employment in a position that is let off from the U.S. Department of Labor’s temporary labor certification application filing requirement may omit step 1 in the H-2B process.

List of H-2B Eligible Countries

The Department of Homeland Security publishes the list of H-2A and H-2B eligible countries annually in a Federal Register notice. Designation of eligible countries is valid for one year from publication.
Effective Jan. 18, 2013, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2B program:

Argentina
Australia
Barbados
Belize
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Costa Rica
Croatia
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Ethiopia
Estonia
Fiji
 
 
Guatemala
Grenada
Honduras
Hungary
Haiti
Ireland
Israel
Iceland
Jamaica
Japan
Kiribati
Latvia
Lithuania
Moldova
Montenegro
Macedonia
 
 
Mexico
Nicaragua
New Zealand
The Netherlands
Norway
Nauru
Philippines
Poland
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Romania
Slovakia
Serbia
Solomon Islands
South Africa
South Korea
 
 

Samoa
Slovenia
Switzerland
Spain
Tonga
Turkey
Tuvalu
Uruguay
Ukraine
United Kingdom
Vanuatu

Note: If you request H-2B workers from both eligible and non-eligible countries, USCIS suggests that you file two separate petitions. Filing one petition for workers from eligible countries and a separate petition for workers from non-eligible countries may help decrease delays.

Staying Period

USCIS may allow H-2B classification for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification. H-2B classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each and the maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is 3 years. A new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time must accompany each extension request. A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2B time.
Exception: Certain periods of time spent outside of the United States may “disturb” an H-2B worker’s authorized stay and not count toward the 3-year limit. See “Calculating Interrupted Stay for H-2 Classifications” for additional information.

How to Notify USCIS

Notification should be made via email or mail to the USCIS Service Center that approved the I-129 petition. Otherwise, email notification is strongly recommended to ensure timely notification.

H-3 Visa (Trainees Coming for On-the-job Training)

H-3 visa is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Foreign nationals to receive training which is not available in their country
  • Foreign nationals as special exchange visitors to receive training in educating children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities
  • Multinational companies to send their foreign employees to the U.S. for on-the-job training

An H-3 visa is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to trainees or special education exchange visitors, who intend to ultimately perform their job outside the United States. The H-3 Visa is specifically designed to enable workers in “any field of endeavor” to train in the U.S.(USCIS). Although this classification includes agriculture, technology, communications, and governmental leadership, it does not apply to people seeking graduate medical training. Trainees’ spouses and children who are under the age of 21 may come with them, but cannot work in the United States unless they have a valid work visa.

H-3 Visa Categories

The two categories which allow foreign nationals coming temporarily to the United States are:

  • Trainee: An H-3 “trainee” must be invited by an individual or organization to receive training which is not available in their home country. It excludes graduate or medical education training, but including (but not limited to) Agriculture, Commerce, Communications, Finance, Government, and Transportation. Physicians are not employable, but medical students and nurses may use it in certain conditions.
  • Special Education Exchange Visitor: To participate in a special education exchange visitor training program that provides practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. There is a cap of 50 visas per year out of which only one was approved in 2012. This remains valid for about 18 months.

Application Procedure

Firstly, in order to obtain H-3 classification, the U.S. employer (petitioner) or organization has to file a Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with a regional INS office. Once the approval notice is received, the alien beneficiary obtains with this approved petition an H-3 visa with a U.S. consulate abroad. Change of status (changing from another non-immigrant visa classification to H-3 without leaving the U.S. ) may also be available, but not in every case. Finally, when the beneficiary applies for entree into the U.S. with his/her issued visa stamp, and it is advisable to have the original approval notice.

Duration of Stay

There is two years of time limit for the initial issue of an H-3 visa. Normally, it is issued for the time of the traineeship. If the petition is affirmed, the trainee may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 2 years, he/she has to leave the U.S. for six months in order to receive a new H or L visa. If the trainee petition is approved for a special education exchange visitor, the trainee may continue in the United States for up to 18 months.

Documentation

Along with the requisite application documents, the H-3 Visa requires your employer to provide the following:

  • Proof that this training is not available in your home country, and that this training will aid you in your career.
  • Proof that you will not engage in willful employment while in the U.S.
  • Proof that the training is formal in nature.
  • Diplomas showing the fulfillment of any necessary education.
  • Documents that show close family members or property are being left behind in your home country.

NOTE: This is the process of obtaining a visa for a person who is outside the United States. A person who is inside the U.S. may be permitted to change from his/her current visa to an H-3 visa.

Family Status for H-3 Visa

Trainees’ spouses and children who are under the age of 21 may come with them to the United States as H-4 nonimmigrants. However, H-4 nonimmigrants are not permitted to work in the United States.

The petitioner must file an H-3 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with a training plan that addresses the above-mentioned requirements. An H-3 petition can be filed for multiple trainees provided, and they will be appealing to remain in the same training program.

O-1 Visa (Persons of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement)

O-1 visa is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Foreign nationals who have received major prizes or awards or other recognition for outstanding achievements in the field of arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics and with a job offer from a U.S. company
  • Foreign nationals who have produced original scientific or scholarly contributions in the academic fields and with a job offer from a U.S. company
  • Artists and entertainers of extraordinary ability affiliated with motion picture or television industry
  • U.S. companies to hire foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the field of arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics

The O-1 Visa is for outstanding individuals. The visa enables people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, motion picture, or television industry to enter the U.S. for temporary periods of time and has been identified nationally or internationally for those achievements, and to certain assistants and immediate family members of such aliens. The spectrum of eligible individuals in this loosely-defined category also includes chefs, carpenters, and lecturers. Firstly, an O-1 visa is allowed for up to 3 years, and later it may be continued for 1 year at a time where the number of extensions may be allowed without any limit. Spouses and dependent children of O-1 visa holders do not get the status but alternatively qualify for O-3 visas.

Qualifications

To qualify for O-1 classification, aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, education, or athletics must be known nationally or internationally for their achievements in their mastery field by providing:
Proof of Internationally recognized award achievement which may be a Nobel Prize or a minimum of three out of the following forms of documentation:

  • Documentation of the individual’s membership in affiliations in the field for which classification is needed with outstanding achievements of their members, as considered by recognized national or international experts in their regulations or fields.
  • Documentation of the individual’s achievement receipt recognized nationally or internationally with prizes or awards for excellence in the field where classification is obtained.
  • Proof of having being participated on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a connected field of specialization to that for which classification is needed.
  • Proof of the individual’s original scholarly, scientific, or business-related contributions of main significance in the field.
  • A declaration that the particular has been employed in a decisive or necessary capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  • Proof of the individual’s initiation of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other leading media.
  • Proof of particular contract that has either granted a high salary or will grant a high salary or other compensation for services, evidenced by contracts or other proved evidence.
  • Broadcasted in professional or major trade publications or major media about the particular, relating to the individual’s work in the field for which classification is needed, which shall include the title, date, and author of such broadcasted thing and any pressing translation.

O-1 Visa Application Procedure

The petitioner should file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions. The petition may not be filed for more than one year before determining the alien’s services. Without a lag, the Form I-129 should be filed at least 45 days before the date of employment. The petitioner must submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and the following documentary proof:
Consultation
The applicant must add a written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person selected by the group with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability. In the case of the O-1 petition for an applicant with extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television, the consultation must come from an appropriate labor union and a management organization with expertise in the respective field.

Exceptions to the Consultation Requirement

The consultation requirement may be deferred if the petitioner can indicate that an appropriate peer group, including a labor organization, does not exist and the decision regarding petition will be based on the evidence provided by the petitioner.

A consultation requirement may be allowed for an alien with extraordinary ability in the field of arts and in the case of the arts, the consultation requirement may be allowed if the individual reenters the United States within 2 years of having a previous consultation. In this case, the petitioner should submit a waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation with the petition.

Contract Between Petitioner and Beneficiary

A summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed includes a copy of any written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary.

NOTE: USCIS will accept an oral contract, as a proof of the elements of the oral agreement by the summation. This proof may include but is not limited to: emails between the contractual parties, a written summation of the terms of the agreement, or any other proof which shows that an oral agreement was created.
In short, the terms of the oral agreement must involve:

  • What was offered by the employer to the employee?
  • What was accepted by the employee?

There is no need to sign the summary by both parties to establish the oral agreement. However, it must document the terms of the employment offered that the beneficiary has accepted the offer.

Continuation of Stay

The petitioner must ask for a continuation of stay to carry forward or complete the same event or activity by filing the following documentation with USCIS:

  • Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
  • A copy of the beneficiary’s Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record.
  • A statement from the petitioner explaining the reasons for continuing.

To assist USCIS in adjudication of your request for continuation, the statement should describe the event or activity on the basis of the original approval and confirm that the extension is needed in order for the beneficiary to continue or complete the same event or activity as described.
The beneficiary’s spouse and children must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and submit any supporting documents to continue their stay.

Family Status

Any accompanying or following to join, spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa, for the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 nonimmigrant. They may not work in the United States under this classification, but they may engage in a full or part-time study on an O-3 visa.

Changing Employers

An O-1 nonimmigrant visa holder in the United States can change employers, and then the new employer must file a Form I-129 with the USCIS office listed on the form instructions. If the petition was filed by an agent, an improved petition must be filed with proof relating to the new employer and a request for continuation of stay.

Change of Material in Terms and Conditions of Employment

If there has been any change of material in terms and conditions of the beneficiary’s employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility, the petitioner must file an improved petition on Form I-129 with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.

O-2 Visa (Essential Support Personnel of O-1 Visa Holders)

  • O-2 visa is suitable for essential support personnel of O-1 visa holders

The O-2 work visa is a nonimmigrant visa which offers essential support personnel of O-1 visa holders in the fields of athletics, motion picture, entertainment, and television production to enter the U.S. and engage in official activities. This status is not applicable to personnel in the sciences, business, or education.

Eligible Criteria

To be eligible for an O-2 visa, one must prove that:

  • O-2 visa holder is an integral part of the actual performance of the O-1 principal visa holder.
  • Having critical skills and knowledge that are not of a general nature and cannot be performed by other individuals.
  • Will provide support to the principal O-1 visa holder. For example: In the world of athletics and support personnel that would most usually put into use for the O-2 visa includes trainers, coaches, umpires, referees, and interpreters.

O-2 visa is normally valid for 3 years just like O-1 visa, or as long as it is considered essential to finish a competition or to finish a work. Additionally, extensions may be allowed in 1 year.

Limitations

Following are some limitations on the O-2 visa:

  • You have to keep a foreign residence that you do not determine to abandon.
  • You live and work temporarily in the United States.
  • Work only for the O-1 principal visa holder to whom you provide support.

The O-2 Visa must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to accompany you to the U.S. under the O-3 status. The petitioner should file a petition on their behalf. Your dependents must affirm immediate relation to you, and will not be permitted to work, though they are not permitted to work while in the U.S., dependants may attend school or college.

L-1 Visa (Intra-company Transferees)

L-1 visa is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Foreign national executives being transferred to the U.S. to manage an organization or a major function or division of an organization
  • Foreign national managers being transferred to the U.S. to supervise work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or who manages an essential function, department, or subdivision
  • Specialized Knowledge employees of companies outside U.S. that have related U.S. branches, subsidiaries, affiliates, or joint venture partners
  • Employees and partners of international accounting firms
  • Multinational companies to transfer foreign national executives to manage an organization or a major function or division of an organization in the U.S.
  • Multinational companies to transfer foreign national managers to supervise work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or who manages an essential function, department, or subdivision in the U.S.
  • Multinational companies to transfer employees with specialized knowledge such as its products, research methods, and marketing techniques.
  • Businesses that function both in the U.S. and in their home country benefit from the best of what both areas have to offer. The L-1 visa is open to international organizations with offices in the U.S. who temporarily transfer employees to their U.S. office. The L-1 visa is a document used to enter the United States for the purpose of work in L-1 status. This visa is sometimes referred as the “intra-company transferee” visa. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time differs from place to place; from three months (for Iran nationals) to one year (Mexico), two years (Brazil, Russia, China), to five years (India, Japan, Germany), based on a reciprocity schedule. With extensions, the maximum stay is seven years. The US and non-US employers must be related in one of four ways: parent and subsidiary; branch and headquarters; sister companies owned by a mutual parent; or ‘affiliates’ owned by the same or different people in approximately the same percentages.The employer must file a Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker), with the fee, on behalf of the employee. Spouses of L-1 visa holders are allowed to work without restriction in the US (using an L-2 visa), and the L-1 visa may legally be used as a starting opportunity to a green card under the doctrine of dual intent.

    Types of L-1 Visas

    There are two subcategories of L-1 visa: L-1A for executives and managers, and L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge. L-1A is valid for up to 7 years whereas is valid L-1B for 5 years. After passing 7 or 5 years respectively, the foreign national can generally only qualify for L-1 condition again by working abroad for at least 1 year for the parent, subsidiary, and affiliate or branch office of the U.S. Company. Basically, there are two types of L-1 processes:

    • Regular L-1 visa: This must be applied and approved for each individual by the USCIS. For a regular L-1 visa, the company must file a petition with the USCIS, and then each petition is evaluated on its own merits.
    • Blanket L-1 visa: This is available to employers that meet satisfied criteria. In the case of a blanket L-1 visa petition, it has already been decided by USCIS that the company qualifies for the issuance of Intracompany Transferee visa, so the individual visa applicant need only file a copy of the approved blanket petition along with documents supporting their personal qualifications, with the U.S. consulate or embassy having administration over their place of residence proving the applicant’s qualifications.

    Qualifying Conditions of Employer and Employee

    The L-1 classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee to the United States to help establish one, with additional requirements. To qualify for L-1 classification the employer must:

    • Have a qualifying correlation with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations).
    • Continue doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be applicable for it to be occupied in the international trade.

    Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

    To qualify for L-1 classification the employee must satisfy the following conditions:

    • Generally, must have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years instantly forwarding his or her admission to the United States.
    • Searching to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

    Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide extent without much oversight.

    Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also assign to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others. See section 101(a)(44) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii) for complete definitions.

    Duration of Stay

    Eligible employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be permitted a maximum initial stay of one year. All other eligible employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.

    Family Status of L-1 Workers

    Firstly, to obtain an L-1 visa, you must be able to prove that you have worked for the non-U.S. company for at least one full year within the last three years as an executive, manager, or employee with specialized knowledge. The transferring employee may be accompanied by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may look for admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, they will be allowed the same period of stay as the employee.

    If these family members are already in the United States and looking for a change of status to or extension of stay in L-2 classification, they may apply collectively, with the fee, on a Form I-539 , Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.

    Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with the fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.

L-2 Visa (Spouses and Children of L-1 Visa Holders)

L-2 visa is suitable for following categories of people:

  • Spouse and children of L-1 visa holders who wish to visit the principal visa holder in the U.S.
  • Spouse and children of L-1 visa holders who wish to accompany the principal visa holder.

The L-2 visa remains valid only for the duration of principal L-1 visa holder’s visa. During this period, the L-2 visa holder can travel in and out of the United States on short trips. This visa also allows engaging in study in the U.S. The L-2 visa holders (spouse) must apply for EAD (Employment Authorization Document) in case they wish to work in the U.S. L-2 visa holders (spouse) with an EAD can work freely in the country. However, the dependent children cannot work in the U.S.
Application

The following documents are required to be submitted along with the application:
– Two recent photographs of the applicant
– Valid passport
– Completed and duly signed visa application
– Marriage certificate (original)
– Copy of the L-1 visa approval of the primary applicant
– Demand drafts for visa application and issuance fees

Renewal

The L-2 status must be renewed when the L-1 visa is renewed. This doesn’t require the visa in the passport to be renewed, but only the status of L-2 in the U.S. In case of renewal, the visa holder needs to go to the U.S. embassy or consulate office outside the U.S.

P-1 Visa

The P-1 visa is a temporary visa, assigned for those who are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of whole group or team, which is recognized internationally.

  •   A P visa is divided into two subcategories; P-1A for an internationally known athlete and P-1B for an internationally known entertainer.
  •  P-1 visas are issued to entertainers, circus artists, and athletes who wish to work in the U.S.

The P-1 visa is a temporary visa, assigned for those who are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of whole group or team, which is recognized internationally. A P visa is divided into two subcategories; P-1A for an internationally known athlete and P-1B for an internationally known entertainer. Artists and athletes are essential for a healthy cultural exchange. The global community benefits greatly from the work of each country’s greatest thinkers and performers. P-1 visas are issued to entertainers, circus artists, and athletes who wish to work in the U.S. Individual members of the entertainment industry are not eligible for the P-1 visa classification, but individual athletes are. Individual artists cannot usually get a P-1 visa, except when rest of their group members are already in the United States. Athletes, entertainers, and artists must be known internationally for their outstanding performance to be allowed P visas and have a constant period of achievement no less than one year; minimum 75 percent of the group’s individual members must have a maintained relationship to the group, generally satisfied by at least one year of membership.

Members of the entertainment industry will be issued the visa for a specific event only. However, individual athletes may be allowed for five years and a team for a period of six months. Entertainment groups with an outstanding international reputation can be granted P-1 classification as a unit; however, individual entertainers within these groups cannot apply for separate visas.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to compete in the U.S., outstanding athletes may apply for this visa either as individuals or as members of an internationally recognized athletic team. This is applicable for two eligibility criteria:

  • Individual Athletes: Applicant must be coming to the United States to participate in individual event, competition, or performance in which he/she is known internationally with a high level of achievement; proved by a degree of skill and acknowledgement substantially above that ordinarily sustained so that the achievement is notable, leading, or well-known in more than one country.
  • Athletic Teams/Group: They must be coming to the United States to participate in team events and must have achieved significant international identification in their particular area. The situation in which team/group is participating must be grand and need the participation of athletic teams of international acknowledgement.

Entertainment group must be internationally acknowledged, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition considerably above that ordinarily encountered. The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members or the acclaim of a particular production, is important. At least 75 percent of the members of your group must have had an important and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year.

Application Procedure

Following are certain procedures which should be taken care of at the time of filing for P-1 visa petition:

  • The employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker, with suitable fee and supporting documentation.
  • A petitioner as an agent, when filing petition for multiple employers must organize that it is properly authorized to act as an agent. See the memorandum “Requirements for Agents and Sponsors Filing as Petitioners for the O and P Visa Classifications.” If no appropriate labor organization exists, this requirement is excused.
  • A consultation from an appropriate labor organization must be submitted by the U.S. employer.
  • The consultation must distinguish the work or services to be performed in the U.S. and abilities for such work.
  • A consultation from an appropriate labor organization according to the nature of work to be done or a statement proving that the group has been established and performing regularly for the duration of at least one year (If no appropriate labor organization exists, this requirement is excused).

Documentations

Form I-129 regarding athlete must include the following documents:

  • A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization.
  • An explanation of the event and plan of travel.
  • A copy of the contract with a major U.S. sports league or team or a contract in an individual sport commensurate with international acknowledgement in the sport, if such contracts are normally utilized in the sport.
  • Documentation of at least two of the following:
    • Proof about you and your team is ranked, if the sport has international rankings.
    • Proof about you or your team that has obtained a significant honor or award in the sport.
    • Proof of having participated to a significant extent in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition.
    • Proof about how you and your team internationally acknowledged in the form of a written statement from an official of a major U.S. sports league or an official of the governing body of the sport.
    • Proof of having participated to a significant magnitude in a prior season with a major United States sports league.
    • Proof of having participated to a significant magnitude in international competition with a national team.

Form I-129 regarding entertainer must include the following documents:

  • Proof about the group which has been established and performing regularly for at least one year.
  • A written consultation from the suitable labor organization.
  • Itinerary with the dates and locations of the performances.
  • Providing contract detail copy done between the petitioner and the beneficiary or summary of terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed.
  • Proof that your group is internationally acknowledged as excellent in the discipline for a maintained and substantial period of time as demonstrated by evidence of your group’s receipt of, or nomination for, prizes for outstanding achievement in the field or significant international awards, or evidence of at least three of the following:
    • Group has received significant acknowledgement for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field.
    • Outstanding achievement with international recognition and acclaim in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, magazines, trade journals, or other published material.
    • Having a record of major commercial or critically renowned successes, as proved by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, video sales, cassette, or other achievements as reported in newspapers, trade journals, or other publications.
    • Group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in events which have a distinguished esteem as proved by critical reviews, publicity releases, advertisements, contracts, or endorsements.
    • Group has commanded and will demand a high salary or other important payment for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as proved by contracts or other reliable proof.

Family Status (For P-1A & P-1B)

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain P-4 status. Your dependents may not engage in employment but may attend school or college.

Support

Essential Support Personnel who are a necessary part of the performance of a P-1 athlete (team) / P-1 entertainer(s) and who perform support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker are eligible for P-1 classification. Athlete, support personnel may include trainers, scouts, coaches, other team officials, and referees. Entertainer, support personnel include front office personnel, operators, lighting technicians, camera, and stage personnel.

The U.S. employer must file a separate Form I-129 for support personnel. The petition must include the following documents:

    • A consultation from an appropriate labor organization with expertise in the area of the support person’s skill.
    • A statement describing the support person’s prior and current essentiality, critical skills, and experience with the P-1 athlete (team)/ P-1 entertainer(s).
    • A copy of a written contract between the employer and the support person or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the support person will be employed.

P-2 Visa

The P-2 visa is given to those who come temporarily to perform as an artist or entertainer whether individually or as part of a group, who will perform under an alternate exchange program between an organization in the U.S. and an organization in another country.

  •  P-2 visa applicants must obtain similar skills to those of U.S. performers which take part in the program outside the U.S.
  • P-2 Visas are issued to troupes or bands entering the U.S. as a part of an exchange program.

The P-2 visa is given to those who come temporarily to perform as an artist or entertainer whether individually or as part of a group, who will perform under an alternate exchange program between an organization in the U.S. and an organization in another country. P-2 visa applicants must obtain similar skills to those of U.S. performers which take part in the program outside the U.S. Artists and athletes are essential for a healthy cultural exchange. The global community benefits greatly from the work of each country’s greatest thinkers and performers. P-2 Visas are issued to troupes or bands entering the U.S. as a part of an exchange program.

P-2 Visa Necessary Elements

There are some basic elements which ensure whether an applicant is eligible for a P-2 Visa or not:

  • First and the foremost applicant(s) must be an artist or entertainer.
  • Applicant(s) may be individual or a part of a group which is invited to participate in the alternate exchange program between an organization in the US and an organization in another country.
  • Applicant(s) (artist/entertainer) must be as skillful as compared to those of the U.S. artists and entertainers participating in the program abroad.
  • Applicant(s) may need to meet certain health and character requirements.
  • Finally, there must be a U.S. employer, organization or agent who will sponsor their participation in the exchange program in the US.

Application Procedure

To qualify for a P-2 Visa, a sponsoring labor organization in the U.S. or your U.S. employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker. A petitioner as an agent, when filing petition for multiple employers must organize that it is properly authorized to act as an agent. See the memorandum “Requirements for Agents and Sponsors Filing as Petitioners for the O and P Visa Classifications”.

Documentation

Either the U.S. labor group that negotiated the exchange agreement, the sponsoring organization or the U.S. employer must file the petition. P-2 applicants may be asked to provide the following documents:

  • Proof of the agreement between the organizations involved in the exchange.
  • A letter from the sponsoring organization describing the exchange which is to take place.
  • Copy of the formal alternate exchange agreement between the sponsoring U.S. organization(s) and the organization(s) in abroad which will accept the U.S. artist or entertainer (USCIS).
  • A written consultation by an appropriate labor organization (USCIS).
  • Proof that the nonimmigrant visa petitioner and the U.S. artist or entertainer have “comparable skills and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar” (USCIS).
  • Proof about an appropriate labor organization in the United States was involved in negotiating or has concurred with, the alternate exchange of U.S. and foreign artists or entertainers (USCIS).

Note: If the performance happens in different areas, an outline must be presented including dates and locations of the events.

Family Status

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain P-4 status. Your dependents may not engage in employment but may attend school or college (USCIS).

Personnel Support

Essential personnel support with an entire part of the performance of a P- 2 artist or entertainer and who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker is eligible for P-2 classification. Personnel support may include trainers, stagehands, or those persons having critical knowledge of the specific services to be performed.
The U.S. employer must file a separate Form I-129 for support personnel. The petition must include the following documents:

  • A written consultation by an appropriate labor organization.
  • A statement describing the support person’s prior and current basically, critical skills, and experience with the P-2 artist or entertainer (USCIS).
  • Copy of a written contract between the employer and the supported person or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the support person will be employed (USCIS).

P-3 Visa

The P-3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows “culturally unique” artists and entertainers to travel to the U.S. for temporary positions as performers, teachers, or coaches.

  •  P-3 work visa allows you to stay in the U.S. for a time period to complete the performance or task for which you are allowed, but may not surpass one year.
  •  P-3 holders are allowed an additional stay of 12-month increments based on following Form I-129 petitions filed by employers.

Education is paramount to the exchange of ideas and beliefs between nations. The P-3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows “culturally unique” artists and entertainers to travel to the U.S. for temporary positions as performers, teachers, or coaches. P-3 work visa allows you to stay in the U.S. for a time period to complete the performance or task for which you are allowed, but may not for surpass one year. P-3 holders allowed an additional stay of 12-month increments based on following Form I-129 petitions filed by employers. Applicants can renew the P-3 visa status without any departure from the country.

Eligibility

For a P-3 visa you are required to prove that:

  • Your purpose coming to the U.S. as an individual or as a group may include coaching or teaching, developing, interpreting, representing, a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, theatrical, musical, or artistic performance.
  • Your participation must cover cultural event or events which will further the understanding or development of your art form. The event may be commercial or non-commercial.
  • You perform vital support services for a P-3 artist or entertainer, which cannot be performed by U.S. workers.
  • You have achieved national or international acknowledgement or acclaim in the culturally unique program you shall perform.
  • In addition, the applicant must be sponsored by a U.S. employer, organization, or agent for their participation in the event/s in the U.S.

Application Procedure

Your U.S. employer or sponsoring organization must submit Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker. A petitioner as an agent, who will be filing the petition for multiple employers must be properly authorized to act as an agent. See the memorandum “Requirements for Agents and Sponsors Filing as Petitioners for the O and P Visa Classifications.”

Documentation

Either the sponsoring organization or the U.S. employer must file the P-3 visa application. P-3 applicants may be asked to provide the following:

  • A letter from the labor organization.
  • Letters regarding the culturally unique individual’s skills and talents in his or her field.
  • Articles and reviews in respected newspapers, journals, and magazines that prove that the event will be culturally unique.
  • Proof that “all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events” (USCIS).
  • A copy of the contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or the summary of the terms of an oral agreement between the petitioner and the beneficiary (USCIS).
  • Documentation that all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events (USCIS).
  • Affidavits, testimonials, or letters from recognized experts attesting to the authenticity of your or your group’s skills in performing, presenting, coaching, or teaching the unique and traditional art forms and giving the credentials of the expert including the basis of his or her knowledge of your or your group’s skills; OR documentation that you or your group’s performance is culturally unique as evidenced by reviews in newspapers, journals or other published materials (USCIS).

Note: If the performance happens in different areas, an outline must be presented including dates and locations of the events.

Family Status

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain P-4 status. Your dependents may not engage in employment but may attend school or college (USCIS).

Personnel Support

Essential personnel support with an entire part of the performance of a P- 3 artist or entertainer and who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker are eligible for P-3 classification. Personnel support may include coaches, trainers, scouts, and other team officials, and referees.
The U.S. employer must file a separate Form I-129 for personnel support. The petition must include the following documents:

  • A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization.
  • A statement describing the support person’s prior and current essentially, critical skills and experience with the P-3 artist or entertainer (USCIS).
  • A copy of a written contract between the employer and the support person or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the support person will be employed (USCIS).

R-1 Visa

The R-1 Visa enables religious workers to work temporarily for a non-profit religious organization or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States.

  • Religious workers are also divided into two categories to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.
  • Religious worker as a minister must be certified by a recognized religious communion to execute religious worship and actively take part in other works as an authorized member of the priesthood.

The R-1 Visa enables religious workers to work temporarily for a non-profit religious organization or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States. Religious workers are also divided into two categories to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation. Religious worker as a minister must be certified by a recognized religious communion to execute religious worship and actively take part in other works as an authorized member of the priesthood. A religious worker in the vocation field is defined as a calling to live a religious life or having a special grace that God gives to certain persons, calling them to a life of the evangelical counsels such as taking vows, monks, nuns, and religious brothers and sisters.

Qualifying Condition

The R visa may be available for the following individuals:

Ministers

Candidate must be certified by a recognized religious communion to execute religious worship and actively take part in other works as an authorized member of the priesthood. Proof regarding candidate’s qualification includes appointment certificate, licenses, a formal letter of conferral etc.
Religious Vocation or Occupation related workers are categorized into professional workers and other religious workers.

Professional Workers

Candidate must have a U.S. bachelor degree or its foreign equivalent to work in a religious vocation or occupation.

Other Religious Workers

Candidates under this category are working in a religious vocation or occupation.

Religious Occupation or Vocation

A religious occupation implies a habitual involvement in an activity that indicates to a traditional religious occupation which includes liturgical workers, missionaries, religious broadcasters, workers in a religious hospital, religious instructors, vocalists, or catechists except for clerks, maintenance workers, counselors of donations or similar occupations.
A religious vocation involves a calling to religious life, based on the evidence of a lifelong commitment as prepared in the religious communion, such as taking vows, monks, nuns, and religious brothers and sisters.

Religious Denomination (Communion)

A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that functions under a common name, identity, and traditions. In general, a religious denomination is found to have some form of ecclesiastical government, a formal code of doctrine and discipline, religious services and ceremonies, a recognized church and built places of worship. However, an interdenominational religious organization may also consider as a religious denomination if it is free from tax.
However, you have to be a member of the denomination for two years constantly proceeding admission. Your entrance into the U.S. with a purpose to work in a religious vocation or occupation for the denomination/for an organization associated with the denomination whether in a professional capacity or not. If you have remained and presented physically outside the U.S. for existing prior year and had previously spent 5 years in this classification, it makes you eligible to apply for the R-1 visa.

Family Status

Spouses and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age may come along with the religious worker to the U.S. under R-2 status. R-2 visa holders are not allowed to work while staying in the U.S., but may attend school.

Duration of Stay

Initially, R visa can be issued for 3 years and continued with an extension of 2 years more, a total of 5 years period. If the candidate wants to stay longer in the US with R-1 status, he/she must live and be present physically outside the U.S. for one year to be eligible again for R-1 status. The R visa could possibly lead to a green card.

The petitioning organization may also be asked to provide the following:

  • Written proof that the applicant has been employed by the organization for two years.
  • A statement outlining the potential position (including “salary, benefits, and other compensation”) and the applicant’s qualifications for the work to be performed (USCIS).
  • The name and address of the organization where the religious worker will be employed.
  • Proof of “the organization’s affiliation with the denomination” in question (USCIS).

TN Visa

TN visa is a special non-immigrant status under which the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible to enter the U.S. to work temporarily under nonimmigrant TN status.

  • For obtaining this visa, the applicant’s profession must be on the NAFTA list and he/she must have proper training for that profession.
  • It is also necessary that the applicant is a citizen of Mexico or Canada. Self-employment will not be permitted and he/she will work in a part-time or full-time job.

TN visa is a special non-immigrant status under which the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible to enter the U.S. to work temporarily under nonimmigrant TN status. TN status is identified in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which began in 1994. In the beginning (1988), individuals practicing one of the professions identified in the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement are able to obtain TN status for legal work in the United States and Canada, creating freedom of labor movement. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) found special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It provides U.S., Canadian, and Mexican citizens the opportunity to work in each other’s countries in certain professional occupations. TN set of the profession, an American, Canadian or Mexican can work for up to three years at a time. However, the TN status may be renewed frequently in three-year increments, although it is not a ‘permanent visa,’ and if U.S. immigration officials ascertain that it is being used as a de facto green card, they may elect to decline further renewals. There is a similarity in some ways, to the H-1B visa. The set of professions allowed to petition for TN status is also quite a bit more limited than that for the H-1B visa.
Spouse and dependent children of a TN professional can be admitted into the United States in the TD status.

Eligibility Criteria

The following are the requirements to be eligible for the TN Visa:

  • The profession must be on the NAFTA list.
  • The foreign national must possess the necessary training for that profession.
  • Position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional.
  • The foreign national must work for a U.S. employer.
  • Applicant must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
  • The applicant will work in a considered full-time or part-time job for an employer. Self-employment is not applicable.
  • Applicant has the qualifications, meeting the specific requirements, education, and/or experience, of the profession (TSG).

With some flaws, each profession needs a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, the experience is counted as secondary for that degree. In some professions, an alternative to a bachelor’s degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree.
Note: Requirements for Canadians and Mexicans are different, as explained below.

Requirements for Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified Canadian TN visa applicants upon request. A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply for TN nonimmigrant status at a U.S. port of entry. Please refer to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for additional information and requirements for applying for admission to the United States. If a CBP officer finds you eligible for the admission, you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant.
A Canadian without TN nonimmigrant status, who resides in a third country with a non-Canadian spouse and/or children, and who plans to enter the United States as a NAFTA professional at the same time as the family member(s), will need a TN visa in order for the family members to be eligible to apply for adjunct TD nonimmigrant visa(s).
Alternatively, a prospective TN employer may choose to file on behalf of a Canadian citizen who is outside the United States by submitting Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS.  Premium Processing Service is available.
If USCIS approves Form I-129, you as a prospective worker may then apply to CBP for admission to the United States as a TN nonimmigrant by providing the following documentation to a CBP Officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station:

Requirements for Mexican Citizens

Mexican citizens require obtaining TN visas to enter the United States as a TN nonimmigrant. Mexican citizen should apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. See the U.S. Department of State web page, “Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker.”
Once you are approved for a TN visa, you may apply for admission at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, then you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant. Please visit CBP’s website for additional information and requirements for applying for admission to the United States.

Duration of Stay

If you wish to remain in the United States beyond your initial period of stay (up to 3 years) without first departing from the United States, you must find an extension of stay. If you are in the United States, your employer may file Form I-129 on your behalf. Alternatively, you may depart from the United States before the date your status expires, and then, once abroad, you may apply at a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or at a prepared pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station using the same application and documentation procedures required at the time of your initial application for admission as a TN nonimmigrant.

Dependents / Family Status

Spouses and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to enter the U.S. under the derivative TD-1 and TD-2 visas. Family members may study in the U.S., but they are not allowed to work. Spouses and children are granted TD status for no longer than the period of time granted to the principal TN nonimmigrant.

Documentation (TN-1 Visa / TN-2 Visa)

Canadian Citizens may apply for the TN-1 Visa, and Mexican citizens may apply for the TN-2 Visa. However, note that the process for obtaining a TN-2 Visa is much more complicated than that of the TN-1.

TN-1 Visa

Canadian citizens applying for the TN-1 Visa must provide the following information at a U.S. port of entry:

  • A document from the employer outlining the job duties, the length of the assignment, and the agreed-upon salary.
  • Proof that the employee has completed the necessary education or training for the position.
  • Proof that the employee has all of the necessary licenses for the position.
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship.

Canadian citizens need not file a petition for employment; they must simply obtain TN status at a port of entry.

TN-2 Visa

Mexican citizens are eligible to apply for the TN-2 Visa. Unlike Canadian citizens, Mexican applicants must apply at the U.S. consulate in their home country. Interested applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • A document from the employer outlining the job duties, the length of the assignment, and the agreed-upon salary.
  • Proof that the employee has completed the necessary education or training for the position.
  • Proof that the employee has all of the necessary licenses for the position.
  • Proof of Mexican citizenship.

Extension of Stay

When a Canadian or Mexican TN nonimmigrant applies for an extension of stay in the U.S. at the end of his/her period of admission or affirmation as a TN, any eligible TD family member may also apply to extend their status without the need to travel in another place.
When a Mexican TD dependent wishes to travel abroad following approval of any such extension of stay and expiration of the TD visa, the family member needs to apply for a new TD visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before being permitted to return to the U.S. in TD status.

Q-1 Visa

A Q-1 visa is a nonimmigrant (temporary) work visa for adults (relatively aged 18 years) to participate in a training, employment, and cultural exchange program.

  •  The two categories are “J” nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, which is for educational and cultural exchange programs determined by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs and the “Q” nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, which is for international cultural exchange programs determined by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Q-1 visa supports international cultural exchange such as practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the participant’s home country in the U.S.

A Q-1 visa is a nonimmigrant (temporary) work visa for adults (relatively aged 18 years) to participate in a training, employment, and cultural exchange program. Generally, there are two nonimmigrant (temporary) visa categories for you to participate in Exchange Visitor programs in the United States. The first one is “J” nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, which is for educational and cultural exchange programs determined by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. The second one is “Q” nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, which is for international cultural exchange programs determined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Basically, Q-1 visa supports international cultural exchange such as practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the participant’s home country in the U.S. You may be eligible for a Q-1 nonimmigrant visa classification if you want to participate in an international cultural exchange program. The program must be executed by a U.S. employer and must provide practical training and employment to the participant while implementing the sharing of history, culture, and tradition of the participant’s home country.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the Q-1 nonimmigrant visa, the participant must meet the eligibility criteria mentioned below:

  • Participant must be at least 18 years old and possess the ability to effectively convey their home country’s history and culture for a U.S. audience.
  • Only employers who implement cultural exchange programs are allowed to file a petition for Q nonimmigrant.
  • For Q-1 nonimmigrant visa, the intention must remain to facilitate the sharing of international cultures. It is an employment-oriented program, but an elemental part of your duties must have a cultural element.
  • You must be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of your country.
  • If you have entered previously into the U.S. on a Q-1 visa than you have to be physically outside the U.S. for at least one year before re-entering on the basis of Q-1 visa.

Application Process

A Q-1 visa enables the applicant to participate in an employment-based cultural exchange program in the United States. The Q-1 application must be accompanied by evidence that the employer/sponsor:

  • Determines to be continuing with an overview of the history, customs, heritage, philosophy, tradition, and/or other cultural aspects of the participant’s home country.
  • Intends to make the program available to the public for the purpose of intercultural exchange between the visa holder and the American public.
  • Has selected qualified employee to manage the program and serve as contact with USCIS.
  • Can provide a working environment comparable to that of a domestic employee providing the same services.
  • Is capable of properly compensating the Q-1 visa holder for his or her work.

Documentation

The employer is liable to provide the evidence that the employer maintains an established international cultural exchange program, this may include in following documentation process:

  • Your sponsoring organization/employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS office specified in the form instructions.
  • A valid passport for traveling to the U.S. – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of your stay in the U.S. (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each person who is already included in applicant visa needs to submit a separate application.
  • You need to upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. In case there is any problem uploading photo, you must bring one printed photo as mentioned in the photograph requirements.
  • This may be indicated by submitting copies of catalogs, brochures, or other types of material which embody that the cultural element is designed to give an overview of the attitude, history, customs, philosophy, heritage, tradition, and/or other cultural attributes of the participant’s home country.
  • The employer may also submit proof which demonstrates that the program activities take place in a public setting where the sharing of culture can be achieved through direct interaction with the American public or a segment thereof.

Duration of Stay

A Q-1 visa is generally granted for the duration of the program up to 15 months and afterward, continuations cannot be granted. After the completion of your Q cultural exchange program, you have enough time of 30 days to depart from the United States. You have to spend 1 year outside the United States before you can apply for participation in the Q cultural exchange program again.

Spouse and Children

There is no such provision for spouses and children of Q-1 visa holders to accompany the Q1 visa holder. Spouses and children wishing to come to the U.S. to join their spouse or parent are needed to get a suitable travel visa, work visa, or student visa.